Mer­ck adds an­oth­er OK to Keytru­da score­board; Arde­lyx, Ky­owa Kirin broad­ens part­ner­ship be­yond tena­panor

Mer­ck‘s an­ti-PD-1 block­buster, Keytru­da, is rack­ing up win af­ter win. The newest jew­el to the crown for the com­pa­ny is the Chi­nese ap­proval of the ther­a­py in com­bi­na­tion with car­bo­platin and pa­cli­tax­el for the first-line cas­es of metasta­t­ic squa­mous non-small cell lung can­cer (NSCLC). With this new in­di­ca­tion, Keytru­da is now ap­proved to treat both squa­mous and non-squa­mous NSCLC in con­junc­tion with chemother­a­py, as well as a sub­group of NSCLC pa­tients as a monother­a­py.

→ Af­ter re­cent­ly re­ceiv­ing its first FDA OK for IBS and on the back of two suc­cess­ful Phase III tri­als, Arde­lyx an­nounced that it will be ex­pand­ing its part­ner­ship with Ky­owa Kirin. The ex­pan­sion builds on a 2017 pact that al­lows the Japan­ese phar­ma to de­vel­op and com­mer­cial­ize tena­panor, now Ib­srela in the US, in car­diore­nal dis­eases in­clud­ing hy­per­phos­phatemia. Ky­owa Kirin is now pay­ing Arde­lyx $10 mil­lion more to lever­age its dis­cov­ery plat­form against two undis­closed tar­gets, with up to $10.5 mil­lion in up­front $500 mil­lion in mile­stones ayable should they ex­er­cise the op­tion to li­cense these com­pounds. In a sec­ond agree­ment, it’s in­ject­ing $20 mil­lion in­to the Fre­mont, CA-based biotech in an eq­ui­ty in­vest­ment valu­ing its shares at $6.96.

→ Looks like Mer­ck wasn’t the on­ly one to snag a Chi­na ap­proval. Astel­las an­nounced to­day that Xtan­di — the drug its part­ner Pfiz­er grabbed in the $14 bil­lion ac­qui­si­tion of Medi­va­tion — has got­ten the green light for the treat­ment of adult men with metasta­t­ic cas­tra­tion-re­sis­tant prostate can­cer who have failed an­dro­gen de­pri­va­tion ther­a­py and not re­ceived chemother­a­py. Xtan­di is a grow­ing fran­chise for the duo, who are still seek­ing la­bel ex­pan­sions in the US.

→ Af­ter push­ing their co-founder out be­cause of an HR vi­o­la­tion, Re­vance Ther­a­peu­tics — fo­cused on the de­vel­op­ment of neu­ro­mod­u­la­tor prod­ucts for aes­thet­ic and ther­a­peu­tic in­di­ca­tions — is forg­ing ahead to seek ap­proval for its Botox ri­val Dax­i­bot­u­linum­tox­i­nA for In­jec­tion (DAXI) to treat mod­er­ate to se­vere frown lines. The com­pa­ny sub­mit­ted a BLA to the FDA based on SAKU­RA Phase III tri­als, an­tic­i­pat­ing a po­ten­tial OK in the sec­ond half of 2020.

Te­va, the world’s largest man­u­fac­tur­er of gener­ic drugs, has inked two re­search deals with in­sti­tu­tions in its na­tive Is­rael. One pact is with the Weiz­mann In­sti­tute of Sci­ence‘s com­mer­cial arm, Ye­da Re­search and De­vel­op­ment and the oth­er, an ex­pan­sion on their sci­en­tif­ic col­lab­o­ra­tion with Tel Aviv Uni­ver­si­ty. The work with Ye­da Re­search aims at iden­ti­fy­ing the next gen­er­a­tion of an­ti­bod­ies for can­cer treat­ment, while the part­ner­ship with Tel Aviv will fo­cus on re­search with­in the fields of can­cer and brain stud­ies.

Sanofi brings in 4 new ex­ec­u­tives in con­tin­ued shake-up, as vac­cines and con­sumer health chief head out the door

In the middle of Sanofi’s multi-pronged race to develop a Covid-19 vaccine, David Loew, the head of their sprawling vaccines unit, is leaving – part of the final flurry of moves in the French giant’ months-long corporate shuffle that will give them new-look leadership under new CEO Paul Hudson.

The company also said today that Alan Main, the head of their consumer healthcare unit, is out, and they named 4 executives to fill new or newly vacated positions, 3 of whom come from both outside both Sanofi and from Pharma.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 81,800+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

As­traZeneca trum­pets the 'mo­men­tous' da­ta they found for Tagris­so in an ad­ju­vant set­ting for NSCLC — but many of the ex­perts aren’t cheer­ing along

AstraZeneca is rolling out the big guns this evening to provide a salute to their ADAURA data on Tagrisso at ASCO.

Cancer R&D chief José Baselga calls the disease-free survival data for their drug in an adjuvant setting of early stage, epidermal growth factor receptor-mutated NSCLC patients following surgery “momentous.” Roy Herbst, the principal investigator out of Yale, calls it “transformative.”

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 81,800+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Pablo Legorreta, founder and CEO of Royalty Pharma AG, speaks at the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Cap­i­tal­iz­ing Pablo: The world’s biggest drug roy­al­ty buy­er is go­ing pub­lic. And the low-key CEO di­vulges a few se­crets along the way

Pablo Legorreta is one of the most influential players in biopharma you likely never heard of.

Over the last 24 years, Legorreta’s Royalty Pharma group has become, by its own reckoning, the biggest buyer of drug royalties in the world. The CEO and founder has bought up a stake in a lengthy list of the world’s biggest drug franchises, spending $18 billion in the process — $2.2 billion last year alone. And he’s become one of the best-paid execs in the industry, reaping $28 million from the cash flow last year while reserving 20% of the cash flow, less expenses, for himself.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 81,800+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Dan O'Day, Gilead CEO (Andrew Harnik, AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Gilead leas­es part­ner rights to TIG­IT, PD-1 in a $2B deal with Ar­cus. Now comes the hard part

Gilead CEO Dan O’Day has brokered his way to a PD-1 and lined up a front row seat in the TIGIT arena, inking a deal worth close to $2 billion to align the big biotech closely with Terry Rosen’s Arcus. And $375 million of that comes upfront, with cash for the buy-in plus equity, along with $400 million for R&D and $1.22 billion in reserve to cover opt-in payments and milestones..

Hotly rumored for weeks, the 2 players have formalized a 10-year alliance that starts with rights to the PD-1, zimberelimab. O’Day also has first dibs on TIGIT and 2 other leading programs, agreeing to an opt-in fee ranging from $200 million to $275 million on each. There’s $500 million in potential TIGIT milestones on US regulatory events — likely capped by an approval — if Gilead partners on it and the stars align on the data. And there’s another $150 million opt-in payments for the rest of the Arcus pipeline.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 81,800+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Getty Images)

Sanofi CEO Paul Hud­son has $23B burn­ing a hole in his pock­et. And here are some hints on how he plans to spend that

Sanofi has reaped $11.1 billion after selling off a big chunk of its Regeneron stock at $515 a share. And now everyone on the M&A side of the business is focused on how CEO Paul Hudson plans to spend it.

After getting stung in France for some awkward politicking — suggesting the US was in the front of the line for Sanofi’s vaccines given American financial support for their work, versus little help from European powers — Hudson now has the much more popular task of managing a major cash cache to pull off something in the order of a big bolt-on. Or two.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 81,800+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Ab­b­Vie wins an ap­proval in uter­ine fi­broid-as­so­ci­at­ed heavy bleed­ing. Are ri­vals My­ovant and Ob­sE­va far be­hind?

Women expel on average about 2 to 3 tablespoons of blood during their time of the month. But with uterine fibroids, heavy bleeding is typical — a third of a cup or more. Drugmakers have been working on oral therapies to try and stem the flow, and as expected, AbbVie and their partners at Neurocrine Biosciences are the first to make it across the finish line.

Known chemically as elagolix, the drug is already approved as a treatment for endometriosis under the brand name Orilissa. It targets the GnRH receptor to decrease the production of estrogen and progesterone.

David Chang, Allogene CEO (Jeff Rumans)

Head­ed to PhII: Al­lo­gene CEO David Chang com­pletes a pos­i­tive ear­ly snap­shot of their off-the-shelf CAR-T pi­o­neer

Allogene CEO David Chang has completed the upbeat first portrait of the biotech’s off-the-shelf CAR-T contender ALLO-501 at virtual ASCO today, keeping all eyes on a drug that will now try to go on to replace the first-wave personalized pioneers he helped create.

The overall response rate outlined in Allogene’s abstract for treatment-resistant patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma slipped a little from the leadup, but if you narrow the patient profile to treatment-naïve patients — removing the 3 who had previous CAR-T therapy who didn’t respond, leaving 16 — the ORR lands at 75% with a 44% complete response rate. And 9 of the 12 responders remained in response at the data cutoff, offering a glimpse on durability that still has a long way to go before it can be completely nailed down.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 81,800+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Roger Perlmutter, Merck R&D chief (YouTube)

Backed by BAR­DA, Mer­ck jumps in­to Covid-19: buy­ing out a vac­cine, part­ner­ing on an­oth­er and adding an­tivi­ral to the mix

Merck execs are making a triple play in a sudden leap into the R&D campaign against Covid-19. And they have more BARDA cash backing them up on the move.

Tuesday morning the pharma giant simultaneously announced plans to buy an Austrian biotech that has been working on a preclinical vaccine candidate, added a collaboration on another vaccine with the nonprofit IAVI and inked a deal with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics on an early-stage antiviral.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 81,800+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

As­traZeneca’s $7B ADC suc­ceeds where Roche failed, im­prov­ing sur­vival in gas­tric can­cer

Another day, another win for Enhertu.

The antibody-drug conjugate AstraZeneca promised up-to $7 billion to partner on has had a quite a few months, beginning with splashy results in a Phase II breast cancer trial, a rapid approval and, earlier this month, breakthrough designations in both non-small cell lung cancer and gastric cancer.

Now, at ASCO, the British pharma and their Japanese partner, Daiichi Sankyo, have shown off the data that led to the gastric cancer designation, which they’ll take back to the FDA. In a pivotal, 187-person Phase II trial, Enhertu shrunk tumors in 42.9% of third-line patients with HER2-positive stomach cancer, compared with 12.5% in a control arm where doctors prescribed their choice of therapy. Progression-free survival was 5.4 months for Enhertu compared to 3.5 months for the control.